Biking to the Sugar Shack in Vanier from Centretown

There’s a sugar shack in Ottawa, thanks to a group of intrepid monks who preserved and tapped the many trees found within Vanier’s Richelieu Park, once the property of their monastic order. The Brothers left in the 1970’s but maple syrup continues to be prepared on site each Spring. The sugar shack is open to the public on weekends throughout the months of March and April. It’s so close to Centretown you can easily bike there. So I did. The blue line on the map below is the route I rode, purple lines are slight alterations I took on the way back.

Our adventure begins at the western most point of the Laurier Bike Lane where Laurier crosses Bronson.

Laurier Bike Lane in the Spring
Laurier Bike Lane in the Spring

I followed the bike lane all the way downtown to City Hall. There I turned right on to the plaza and followed the path on the west side of City Hall through to Cartier St.

Path to the right of City Hall plaza through to Cartier St
Path to the right of City Hall plaza through to Cartier St

I followed Cartier St for a block, then turned left onto one-way Cooper St, and continued along until Somerset St. Immediately left on Somerset there’s a traffic light across Queen Elizabeth Drive to the pedestrian/bike bridge over the Rideau Canal.

View from the bridge through love locks down the melting Rideau Canal
View from the bridge through love locks down the melting Rideau Canal

Another signalized crosswalk at Colonel By Drive led me to the bike lanes under Nicholas St and up to the University of Ottawa campus.

Tunnel under Nicholas through to Ottawa U campus
Tunnel under Nicholas through to Ottawa U campus

The first street on the left through the campus has a contra-flow bike lane combined with painted sharrow markings pointing in the direction of traffic, which directed me along a network of quiet streets northwardly through campus.

Ottawa U bike route through campus
Ottawa U bike route through campus

I turned left on to University Private abandoning the lane+sharrow combo, and then turned right on Cumberland St. There’s a bike lane to follow along Cumberland once across the signalized Laurier Ave E intersection. I then turned right on to the bike lane along Wilbrod St, that heads east through Sandy Hill.

Left on Cobourg then right on Daly brought me to the intersection at Charlotte and Daly. Unfortunately there isn’t a cross signal to get across Charlotte, which can get busy as it’s a popular link between Rideau Street to get to Laurier Avenue. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long for a opening to get across.

Straight through on Daly, left on Wurtemburg St then right on Besserer which brought me to a very nice recently introduced winding paved path through Besserer Park down to the Cummings Bridge.

Path through Besserer Park
Path through Besserer Park

Heading east across the bridge over the Rideau River, there are painted sharrows in green boxes along the inside lane. Traffic moves very fast across this bridge. Along busy traffic arteries such as this one, no matter how you dress them up, sharrows are the most useless form of bike accommodation imaginable. Worse than useless, they are dangerous, because they falsely suggest to riders that they are designated safe routes when drivers ignore them because they can. I walked my bike along the sidewalk.

'Splat'
Heading east over Cummings Bridge

Once arrived on the other side of the bridge I crossed at the intersection and headed north along North River Road.

Turned right onto Coupal where, at it’s eastern extremity, there is a short path to the Vanier Parkway. A few more yards along the sidewalk brings you to a crosswalk.

Short path at the end of Coupal.....& bit of sidewalk to lights across the Vanier Parkway
Short path at the end of Coupal…..& bit of sidewalk to lights across the Vanier Parkway

I then wove my way along calm streets through Vanier, as per the above map, to Pères-Blancs Avenue that leads up towards Richelieu Park.

Pères Blancs Avenue
Pères Blancs Avenue

A short distance inside the old gates to the park there is a path to the left that leads to the sugar shack.

Path off Pères Blancs Avenue towards the sugar shack
Path off Pères Blancs Avenue towards the sugar shack

This season I rode there on a quiet holiday Monday morning when the shack was closed, however in previous years I’ve visited on weekends when it is open to the public and the boilers are in full operation.

Sugar Shack
Sugar Shack

On the way back I re-traced my treads as far as Cummings Bridge. There is a bike lane heading west over this busy pont, however the lane marking is completely worn off at the eastern end of the bridge and barely visible the rest of the way across.

Missing bike lane heading west over the Cummings Bridge
Missing bike lane heading west over the Cummings Bridge

The bike lane disappears completely once arrived on the other side of the bridge. That’s because Rideau St was paved late last season and the line has yet to be re-painted. Until then I recommend returning the same way I came by walking along the opposite side walk and riding up the nice new path to Besserer St. Once the westward bike lane is re-painted, there’s a nice new path link on the south side of Rideau St across the intersection that links to Wurtemburg St, like so.

Path linking Rideau St to Wurtemberg
Path linking Rideau St to Wurtemberg

Stewart St is a one way with a bike lane heading west through Sandy Hill with a number of old architectural gems like this.

Philomene Terrace constructed in 1874
Philomene Terrace constructed in 1874

I turned left on Cumberland and wove my way through back the Ottawa U campus. On the west side of the pedestrian bridge I turned right on to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway and cut through Confederation Park to get to the Laurier Bike Lane.

Et voila!

Maples being tapped around the sugar shack
Maples being tapped around the sugar shack

Author: ottawavelo

bicycler

1 thought on “Biking to the Sugar Shack in Vanier from Centretown”

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